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Sumotext exec claims marketing trumps donations with SMS

NEW YORK – A Sumotext executive at Mobile Commerce Daily’s fourth annual Nonprofit Mobile Day said that nonprofits should focus on the marketing aspect of SMS instead of solely relying on the medium to collect donations.

The executive’s sponsored keynote session titled “Messaging Technologies and Tactics for Nonprofits to Stay Relevant” discussed the ways that nonprofits are leveraging mobile through multiple different channels. In addition, the session gave attendees a few best-practice tools on how nonprofits can use mobile.

“When someone gives you money, that is not an opt-in,” said Tim Miller, CEO of Sumotext, Little Rock, AR.

“If your call-to-action says ‘Text this to give,’ then all you do is give,” he said.

“If you want to remarket to them to let them know about your next fundraiser, your next meeting, your next event, you need to get an opt-in. I say lead with marketing and then have the giving be behind that.”

Nonprofit Mobile Day, a conference owned by Mobile Commerce Daily parent Napean LLC, was co-presented with the Direct Marketing Association.

Different missions
SMS is a constant tool for nonprofits to use to drive quick donation efforts around reliefs and ongoing efforts.

However, the differences between a mobile-giving short code and a marketing code are critical.

Indeed, marketers cannot use giving short codes for marketing messages to stay compliant with wireless carriers.

Mobile giving codes should be used strictly for fundraising efforts so that consumers know what to expect when they receive an SMS message.

Therefore, nonprofits need another short code to use as the backbone for marketing efforts.

Take the Christian sponsorship organization Heifer, for example. The nonprofit uses a mobile call-to-action to encourage consumers to opt-in to marketing messages.

Then once a consumer opts-in, she is sent a message to trigger a donation with all of the same information that is available on a giving call-to-action. The benefit to using the marketing opt-in in this case is that the nonprofit gets the opt-in from a consumer to create a stronger marketing program in the future.

“Mobile giving is not about raising money, it is about identifying donors,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s acquisition, period.”

Give on mobile
Text-to-give promotions are a staple for nonprofits for fundraising. However, organizations should look beyond basic SMS campaigns with new technologies to take messaging initiatives up a notch.

Take MMS, for example. MMS allows marketers to load messages with up to 5,000 characters versus the 160-character limit for SMS.

Nonprofits can also use MMS to incorporate audio, video and pictures to pack an emotional punch with donors via mobile.

According to Mr. Miller, MMS is the best channel into the mobile wallet.

From Apple’s Passbook to ISIS, there is a plethora of mobile wallets available nowadays. However, Passbook seems to be sticking with marketers right now and should be a channel with which nonprofits can experiment.

Star Star abbreviated dial codes are another way that nonprofits can leverage mobile to trigger consumers to take an action.

The codes can be used for both branding and action-driven marketing since they are location-aware and are easy for consumers to remember.

Then there is geo-fencing, which nonprofits can use to target groups of consumers conglomerated in a specific area.

In best form
Mobile should begin with a strategy that includes business and customer goals, integration opportunities and technology opportunities.

The strategy then feeds a roadmap that marketers can use to plan, execute and measure mobile campaigns.

Similar to other industries, nonprofits should differentiate pull versus push messaging.

Messages should also be personalized and contextually-relevant to consumers.

“The idea is that instead of sending an offer, we get people in a way that is designed to collect data,” Mr. Miller said.

Final Take